USDA's Poultry Proposal: Proceed, but Cautiously

CSPI says changes must lead to lower rates of Salmonella and Campylobacter


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposal for revamping poultry inspection would be the first major overhaul in over 50 years. Part of the proposal would have all poultry facilities monitor for pathogens both before and after chilling the poultry, which would give companies a real-time view of conditions in their facilities. In some plants, company inspectors would check for quality defects, likes bruises and sores, enabling USDA to reduce the number of its inspectors checking every carcass. Visual inspection cannot detect food borne pathogens.

USDA should modify its inspection program carefully to ensure that the program reduces the unacceptably high levels of Salmonella and Campylobacter in chicken and turkey. One can’t escape the fact that the government is shrinking, and that historic programs like this one need to demonstrate their value. The proof will be in reduced contamination rates, leading to fewer deaths and illnesses.

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